With its roots dating back to the mid-’90s, the Tour de Shunk Road is not just a test of physical prowess but a symbol of community spirit. Conceived by a group of local cycling aficionados, the event has metamorphosed over the decades from linking local favorite routes to a full-blown race that has donated over $110,000 to charities since its inception. The event is now organized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers and traditionally a road cycling event, the Tour de Shunk Road expanded into gravel cycling in recent years which was welcomed with enthusiastic participation, so much so that it has it’s own registration (Tour de Shunk Gravel)! As a road cycling enthusiast, the lure of the Tour de Shunk Road’s diverse routes, set against the backdrop of NE Pennsylvania’s picturesque landscape, is irresistible and as such, it’s considered to be one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, as rated by Strambecco.
Event & Course Info
The 2023 Tour de Shunk Road promises a mixed surface, off-road adventure for both gravel aficionados and road cyclists. All rides have staged starts planned between 8-10 AM from Monroeton, PA. While the Tour De Shunk is a celebration of cycling, it’s essential to remember the challenging nature of the routes and train adequately. The four paved road courses offered range from 25 to 107 miles.
Each route, especially the 107-mile option, is a challenge, featuring over 10,000 feet of climbing through the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. These routes offer cyclists panoramic views, thrilling descents, and challenging climbs. The 107-mile route will be similar to its 2022 version, while the other paved routes (73-mile/7,200 ft of elevation gain, 56-mile / 5,200 ft of climbing, and 25-mile) have their own distinctive charm.
This road course begins at Rocky’s Bike Shop and follows a scenic route through the foothills of Barclay mountain. Cyclists will encounter a series of small “rollers” and a U-turn at the 14-mile mark. They then ascend Ellenton Mountain, passing through notable spots like the Devil’s Elbow Natural area before descending into Shunk. The course extends eastward to Campbellville and Dushore, featuring hairpin turns and a stop at a historic railroad station. The return journey includes a stretch on highway sections, revisiting some previously covered terrains, and a challenging climb over Wheelerville mountain. As the course nears its end, riders will face enlarged rollers on Southside Road before reaching the starting point for a well-deserved meal.
Regardless of the route chosen at Tour de Shunk Road, cyclists can expect well-placed aid stations, mechanical or SAG support, and the much-anticipated post-ride spaghetti dinner to recharge. After the exhaustive ride, the Fireflies Massage Team will be available to soothe those stressed muscles. All proceeds from the Tour De Shunk will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers, making every mile ridden count for a noble cause.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
While there is no official lodging partner for Tour de Shunk Road, accommodation options include the Quality Inn & Suites, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, and the Victorian Charm Inn. If you prefer a more home-like experience, there are a handful vacation rentals in the area from cabins to guesthouses, as well as Meredith Colony RV Park and one of a kind camping locations for those that enjoy camping.
Nearby Towanda boasts a charming culinary scene that reflects its small-town charm, offering a mix of traditional American fare, local diners, and family-owned eateries that highlight the flavors and heritage of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Be sure to check out local favorites, Havens Main Street Diner, the Flying Taco, and the Community Cup.
Monroeton, Pennsylvania, tucked away in scenic Bradford County, emerges as an alluring retreat for outdoor athletes every September. Monroeton is a gateway to some of Pennsylvania’s most scenic hiking trails. As September paints the foliage in radiant colors, it’s the perfect time to explore the myriad of trails that wind through the county’s rolling hills, dense forests, and alongside babbling brooks. Mt. Pisgah State Park is located just west of Monroeton and offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking. There are multiple trails within the park, each catering to different fitness levels. The trails weave through hardwood forests, wetlands, and along the shores of Stephen Foster Lake. The Lake Shore Trail, in particular, offers a moderate hike with serene views of the lake. While it’s a bit farther away, the Loyalsock Trail is well worth the drive. Stretching over 59 miles, this trail offers stunning views of waterfalls, dense forests, and the Loyalsock Creek. It’s a favorite for both day hikes and extended backpacking trips.
Another popular outdoor activitity is kayaking on the Susquehanna River. Flowing gracefully through Bradford County, the river offers outdoor enthusiasts a tranquil yet invigorating kayaking experience. In September, the river’s gentle currents are accompanied by the breathtaking sight of autumnal foliage reflecting off its waters.
Lastly, Monroeton’s proximity to several renowned climbing spots makes it an ideal base for climbers. Locations like Eagles Mere and Worlds End State Park, which are a short drive away, offer climbing routes that range from beginner to expert.
In addition to Tour de Shunk Road’s sister event, Tour de Shunk Gravel, one of the Best Gravel Events in the Mid-Atlantic for 2023, other best in class road cycling events taking place in Pennsylvania include the Gran Fondo Hincapie – Lehigh Valley from Hincapie Events which is part of the Hincapie Gran Fondo Series, as well as GFNY Pennsylvania York from GFNY and is part of its Global Series.
For the multi-sport athletes out there looking for premier endurance events in Pennsylvania and the broader Mid-Atlantic region, be sure to check out the UnPAved Of The Susquehanna River Valley gravel cycling event from GRO Races and the Trans-Sylvania Gravel Epic from Trans-Sylvania Productions. Also, the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic and the Wilderness 101 from Shenandoah Mountain Touring, part of the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), are popular MTB events in the area and both are considered to be some of the Best Mountain Bike Events in the Mid-Atlantic.
Trail runners also have some epic in-state events to choose from as well, including Eastern States 100 which is final leg of the Pennsylvania Triple Crown of mountain running and is a qualifier for both the Western States 100 and the UTBM World Series. The Hyner View Trail Challenge and Worlds End 100k are both PA Triple Crown events and Worlds End is a Western States Qualifier.